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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  August 7, 2013 2:00am-6:01am EDT

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washington. the great black gay activist byron rosten who wrote an article called from protest to politics to the it and in that article, he contended that time had come for black people to move their political activities from the streets to the halls of the legislatures to the courts and to the executive branch as. there was something powerful about that call and in the context which ruston made it, it had some sense. we had the civil rights act and the voting rights act so the legal architecture could be put in place.
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so from the protest based politics to the electoral institutional government organized politics in which we sought to gain office and get on the school board, the city council, to be in the office, to become governors, and yes evin presidents. i think, however, that what the current moment ought to be telling us is of those of us who understand that the black freedom movement was a freedom movement and not just the movement for civil rights can no longer rely exclusively on the strategy of the electoral the government politics. ..
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for the me the question becomes what form leadership do we need, and where ought that leadership to come from? well, i'm persuaded that leadership is almost certainly not going to come from the main stream of the democratic party. and there's no way it's going to
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come from the republican party. so i think we need to look, my brothers, sisters, friends, fellow citizens, to the left. and to the left which understands the fundamental and intransigent resistance of a liberal democratic understanding of racism and racial justice. in pursuing that project, that images project of black freedom, in which black folk, brown folk, asian folk, native americans and others would be able as king put it in 1963, to live out the full
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meaning of the american dream. to have full, equal to be and substantiative citizenship. that's where the question matters. that's when you have full, equal, and substantiative citizenship. my suggestion is that we need to combine in a way i think is actually beginning to happen protest politics and electoral politics. i see no other way out of the contradiction, which on the one hand, gave us two election cycles in the 2008 and 2010 which black people were the demographic that voted at the highest percentage. on the other hand, has given us an unemployment rate 13%, which is higher than the black employment rate was higher in
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1963. those question of sober -- social and economic justice are questions for me that demand, and only confronted through a double strategy of protest and politics which is informed by the left vision, all right, of social democracy or, if you will, of democratic socialism. [applause] >> i agree with everything that has been said. i would add one thing. over the past fifty years, a lot of work that has been done and maybe it hasn't gotten particularized has been challenging us think differently about leadership. and i know that work has been done. i have read it, seen it, taught it. i think we have very kind of old fashioned notion what leadership looks like. it still mess begannic, charismatic. we saw those kind of narrative
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working that had us president obama between malcolm x and martin luther king. some of us cringed. not because we supported barack obama. president obama was running to be leadership of the united. for some people that meant his interests were protecting these kind of corporate elite interests that are often against the interests of poor people regardless of color. and the questions of economic justice were never on the table. all right. ever. so that work in the past i would say thirty years, twenty years, that taught us to look differently at what leadership look like it seeps in the analysis every once awhile. it seeps in when we mention the name of ella baker. ic we have to go deeper. what did ella baker, not only women but what did they stand
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for? what did ella baker and eye data b. wells, and these were women who were more involved on the protest end because it wasn't to them. i think the freedom struggle they talked about always knew that electoral politics -- we seemed to have given that up when we put everything behind the wishes in the basket that would elect president obama. they were leaders, grassroots leaders who understood their position was only as significant as they were capable of representing the interest of the people who put them there. ella baker said strong people don't need strong leaders. all right. i think we look to communities and groups of people who are organizing if their own interest who put question of economic justice and mass incarceration. all the things that assault our
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community front and center that should be -- to the things fought our community on a daily basis. on front and center on the leaders are presenting to us. we don't think we think it's people who reelect electorial politics and we don't think that black leaders or the leader of the community have access to the media. the media doesn't make our leaders. i'll leave with one, the most recent vision, i think, that could be a model of leadership for us. it's not a leadership of an individual. there was an article in the "times" yesterday or earlier this week about the organization of people. some of them former tobacco -- gang members themselves organized to address black on black violence in, i think it's east new york. where they have not been murder -- a murder for 353 days because they do. it's gone on every day. it's work in the school and
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prison, it's work that goes on at every level. there's a beautiful image in that story of young brother on a bicycle who sees one of these organizers and says -- [inaudible] because he's met him in school and knows the person. there are those kinds of moalgtd -- model of leadership we should be looking to when we think about what does leadership in the 21st century look like? they are out there. i know, they are out there. they don't get on msnbc all the time. but they are out there. [applause] i'm aware i want to leave fief about toes more questions by the audience. i want to ask you by putting one more thought out there. it goes back to barack obama's speech and the way addressed this panel. because at the end of that speech, he said -- he wanted to leave us with a
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sense of hope, and he wanted to talk about the extent to which he does think we are making progress. he described looking to his daughters and the way which his daughters encounter race. and saying they are different than what he experienced. that was one of the moment when i thought about not necessarily the privatization of the question of -- race and dealing with it. but institutions. , churches, education, the media. and since all of us are involved, deeply involved in each of those institutions, i want to end with a question of what is l the role of the law, of the academy, of the media, of social movements, of churches in intervening in this conversation
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to reshape it. kendall, it's time for you to go first. >> the short answer, there's no single role i think to be played by any of those institutions. speaking of someone who professionally is part of the legal community, i want to be real clear that one thing i would not urge is an expectations that the law can do this work. if there's anything i have learned in the over thirty years i have been thinking and working on questions of law it's that the law's limits are sometimes greater than what it can accomplish as a political tool. but i want to go back to this question of the image that the president offered of the generation to which his children belong as a generation which is
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experiencing and therefore feeling and thinking differently about these questions of race and racial justice than someone say would say of my generation or yours. part of me finds -- cannot help but find that really power of the and beautiful insofar as it hold out the hope for a -- transformation, a change in the heart and behind in the heart of people and they think about what it means to have a race or to experience race. in community in common with, and in concert with people who belong or profess or identify
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across the color line. at the same time; however, as i'm willing to concede as feminism, i think, has taught us that the personal is the political. the possibility of those encounters of the president's daughters and the sons and daughters of those who belong to the democratic class from which the president and mrs. obama come. that is the experience of a very narrow, sub community. all right, and of african-americans. and so for me, the question would be how do we go about building a racial public. by racial public, i mean, communities of people that include, but are not restricted
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to people of color. committed to an antiracist agenda. all right. under conditions in which in schools, in workplace, in our neighborhoods. we are, in many instances, as segregated as we were fifty years ago. i do think that the media has a role to play in that. i think the institutions, the actual existing institutions in our communities can do a loath of work that they have not yet taken. i'm not a person of faith. but i believe that institutions of faith and communities of faith have been doing extraordinary work on these issues of -- racial justice across denomination. i think there's a role for the emerging secular black public to play as well.
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but this work cannot be done by anyone's segment of our community. it cannot be done in any one way. [applause] >> very quickly, we're doing this already. we have a center for the study of race and democracy. we are a research center that is connecting race and democracy to public policy working with ngo and scholar works and activists. the late chester said that fighters fight and writers write. and we're supposed to do whatever we can whenever we can. i think we have extraordinary activists and color in the room. education is a big part of what we're trying to do. we are launching a national dialogue on race days. september 12th at the csrd center for the study of race and
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democracy. we're doing that to connect not only trayvon martin, but mass incarceration, violence against black women. poverty, to a genuine public policy debate. i've been talking about national television on race and democracy because too often this issue of race, racism, and black people are made to fit outside of democracy in this country. we are made to feel as we are the other. we're marginal human beings even they have lived here the longest who had a right to vote for the shortest amount of time. who fought in every single war the country has ever have. black people have fought, died, struggled, and bled for democracy including the black women she was talking about. we can be part of this dialogue as leaders. i'm not talking about we're advocating our own leadership role. for those in the academy, in ebony and ivory towers. we have to connect the access we
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have to places like the some berg communities in harl -- harlem, oakland, and boston where i live right now. if we do that and connect on social media and i invite people to join the conversation. we have enough leverage he understands that there are other voices who are substantiative who are -- who have power, who are telling him something else. that's what we need to do. we need to be the voice that says, look, we want substantiative public policy transformation. we're not just going settle for the cultural release of barack obama and michelle obama and sasha and malia. we love them and their existence and they are safe and beautiful. we want public policy transformation for our community and young sons and daughters who are living and dying all over the united. things should be much better now
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than they were fifty years ago. they are not. but we are still optimistic they can be. we have to organize, organize, organize. that's what we need to do. >> i love anything sasha and malia. [laughter] and so any kind of image that makes me go that's beautiful. i love them. i believe the notion that he put forward of kind of new generation set of conversations. but i also think -- and i know that is a set of possibilities as kendall said that is limited, small, narrow, and elite. the two notions of communities talking to each other and having dialogue stuck with me this week where the interview with juror b37 that anderson cooper did. i'm i glad for the interview.
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i'm thankful for the honesty of juror b37 and what he said and the insight she gave us. when she referred to people like rachel as -- those people they don't live like we do. we don't see the world like we do. so clearly she's not having dialogue with people who are different from herself. she doesn't know them. when she sees a picture of trayvon, he's unfamiliar to her and that same night there was an interview with rachel and she kept using a refrain. she said where we're from. this is what we it means. people like that where i'm from. i don't know what it means where you're from. those images of those communities, those ways of belonging that do not talk to each other, that do not in any way -- i think rachel was saying you don't understand where we come from.
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and the juror was saying, i don't recognize that. i don't know that. it's different from sasha and malia and their friends in school, on the basket court; right. so we have to -- our measure of how far we're moving can't just be the measure of two beautiful little girls with great access. but it also has to be the measure of these people who don't necessarily come in to contact with each other for the kinds of dialogues we're talking about until it's too late. until it's in the courtroom and one is a juror who can't understand -- who fat m, can't comprehend the young woman in front of her. the other thing i'll say i think they are all important. they are all a mess. they are all places are where we struggle and fight with each other, fight with our church memberring with fight with our colleagues. they're site where the work has to be done. age new site we're seeing and that we really need attend to
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much more is the site of social media. twitter, frankly, gives me a headache. it really does. i have -- it gives me a headache. but twitter -- for all the, you know, i get angry at the ignorance. i get angry at the access that races have to me and especially to my husband. i get angry about that. but i don't think there's any place with the kind of dynamic dialogue where people are back and forth where people are strait guiding and organizing the immediacy of the organizing around trayvon was extraordinary. we haven't seen anything quite like that. i think that, you know, for all of the messiness. no more messy than other. it's bigger. it's a messy and a lot of ignorance and educating that goes on. there's at love organizing that goes on. there's a lot of democratic debate that goes on. i would add social media to those arena that tina talked
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about earlier as well. [applause] [applause] and now i'm going invite you to pose your questions to this conversation and add your voices. there is a microphone there. i would ask that you were taking that microphone and question hear what you're trying to say. and in the meantime, i want to thank our panelists so far for their powerful statements. [applause] first of all the, thank you are for the conversation. how do you sell a left-wing democratic -- juror b37? [laughter] i ask specifically because she's a voter, and, i mean, it's kind of obvious the thrill is gone with the black community in reference of president obama. and i'm certainly no defender myself. i kind of found his comments
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yesterday -- anyway. the important point is that those people who discuss like the idea that a george zimmerman isn't completely within his right to waste trayvon martin like he's trash on the street. those people vote. they have been voting against the entire time when they weren't attacking us or being -- and president obama's feeling with the fact they vote in numbers structurally that his side simply can't win again. we have watched democratic african-american pop tickses special -- -- they with, i there but never statewide. so i'm cienld of wondering what happens next. we want to bring an antiracism agenda to all the people of color in the country and around the world. bringing together latino and asian-americans and gay, straight, everyone. when structurally speaking you still have a tea party that was
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doing better than us from most of president obama's administration when it came to grassroots organizing. that same tea party or the same kind of people who are voting in the "stand your ground" law and keeping people, you know, keeping idea like sovereign alive today here. i'm wondering given the opposition that still very much entrenched as it was fifty years ago. what happens next? >> well, i think we are talking here about a long revolution. and in the president's deference, one of the great things about his speech had to do with that moment in which he asked the people listening to him to imagine trayvon martin in that situation with a gun. all right. and what the response would likely be. all right. if trayvon martin had had that
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gun. now the great british cultural they theorist from whom i've learned a lot, stewart, said writing after the election of maggie thatcher that one of the things that those of us were on the left needed to understand about why thatcher won. is that people -- don't always, or maybe not most of the time vote on basis of the self-interest. politics, he said, is much less a matter of calculated interest and reason than it is of how we imagine ourselves. how we imagine ourselves in relationships to one another. and so one of the potentially fruitful things about the reor
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rhetorical strategy that the president choose was that he was inviting the juror b37 of the world indeed all of us to think about the ways which we imagine ourselves in relationship to one another. another great british theorist benedict said in answer to the question what is a nation. it's an imagined community. and so fifty years ago, when martin luther king talked about the dream that he had. he was inviting the people in the mall and all the folks heard his speech through the media. to imagine themselves in a different way. this politics of the imagination some folks call a politics of "fantasy"; right. is not the whole of politics. it's not going to be a substitute for hard --
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roll-up-your-sleeves motivating. it's one of the things that motivates people to think critically about and maybe even refuse the primary identity that is being imposed upon us at this moment under late neoliberal capitalism. mainly to see ourselves not as citizens but as consumers; right. people who buy stuff. and that understanding of who we are, of who we might be, and who we have been that the politics of the imagination makes possible. it's a cultural politics. it has to do with producing meanings. making black mean something other than criminal; right. -- that kind of work is cultural work, which has to do with the politics of making new meanings. and that work takes down here,
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takes place here, and the level of the mass media. so i think that is a very important component of it's someone once called, i keep banalizing the term politics of meeting, politics of imagination. that's where i would leave you on this question. >> i would add to that also we might not get juror number b37. we probably won't convince her of anything. i know, this is a job of electricityial politicians to get every vote and not offend people and all of that. but, you know, so maybe we don't get to b37. maybe we lose her; right. but i heard one of the representatives, one of the black representatives from that area say that one of the problems down there is we get so excited about national electricians and mobilize for president obama but many of
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those people who uphold and maintain the strand your ground laws are in electoral -- they don't vote in the same. she can get her anemia there because we kind of sit those out. and so i think that the kind of mobilizing they're talking about with the tea party did. they were very good at mobilizing at the loam level. and we let that go. we put so much energy, and we should have, behind the election of president obama. but the in between elections where the people who maintain laws like stand your ground we sometimes sit them out. we need to be just as vigilant in those kinds of elections as well. [applause] >> i came a little late, so -- but i did hear some of it. many of you may be old enough to
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remember we had a trayvon martin called michael griffin and [inaudible] dlea are they -- they went to jail for thirty to years to life. [applause] the question is how come they're on the panel, the expert at doing this.
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he was legally suspended from the practice of law because he dominated the criminal bar. and so i asked that when you go about talking about these things, mention alton, our children need know we have a lawyer still alive that won these cases. if he was working as an adviser in the trayvon martin case, b37 may not have made it on the jury panel. [applause] i look up to him. >> it's very painful. i have been told i need to cut our conversation short now. so please, i invite you to talk to the panelists afterwards.
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>> please do. >> please do. in the meantime i thank them again. i thank you for your conversation. >> thank you, tina.rator of the
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"chicago tribune."
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[applause] >> thank you. thank you all for coming out on a beautiful day here we are. we don't gate lot of those here. i'm phil rosin that with the "chicago tribune." i'm with ken cull less than, -- cull less than and shelley murphy who are here not to do scouting on the chicago black hawks. [laughter] but talk about their new book on whitey bulger. the boston mobster caught on the lam after sixteen years. and first of all,let get the -- you have boston journalists for a long time. >> between us it's probably like what? sixty years? [laughter] we've been chasing him combined total fifty years each. >> wow. at this point in journalism,
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having a job is its own reward. you have an armful of to if i. a pulitzer prize, it's an impressive list. you know, it's a wonderful book. the thing that i was reminded of at the beginning, something when i was a kid my father was taking friend of mine to see butch cass did i did. he said whatever the movie makes of them, they are the bad guys. and the ore thing that reminded of is the old line from mel brookeson, the 2,000-year-old man asked about robin hood and he said, what about robin hood? he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. it's nonsense. he stole everything and kept everything. how did it happen? he said, well, he had a guy
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named marty. marty would tell everyone he gave from the knew. who knew. he hit you so hard you didn't know. i of thinking about that about bulger. there is a myth and i don't know that we want to believe the myth or whether they want us to believe the myth. they all seem to have myths. tell us about the myth of whitey bulger and it come apart when flushed against reality. >> when we sat down do the book, several narrative art. one is myth making of whitey bulger. from a very early age when he was a young teen criminal he lived in a housing project, the first built new england. and he had a car when no one else had a car. when he wasn't driving around with his girlfriend, he would be scouting and he wasn't scouting
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for criminal opportunity. hef looking for old ladieses. he would see the oldly i did, pull over, jump out. take the groceries and drive them home. it was a very conscious decision. they call it stoop talking. every once awhile that jimmy is a hoodlum. all the old ladies. he's a lovely young man. he gave me a ride home from the market the other day. he was so conscious of doing that. he did it through. he was the one -- the difference about bulger and it wasn't just his narrative that he was pushing out there, he had very influential family and particularly his younger brother became hid advocate and bill was prop all gaiting the myth. he said to my face, my brother would never touch drugs.
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and jimmy -- whitey is good at -- he'll tell you he was never an informant. he never testified against anybody and put them prison. we found the file of 700 pages. he was very much an informant. he would tell you as a criminal that he had all the scruples and never touched drugs. in fact we have a scene he's in in the car with drugs. the reality, he made millions and millions of dollars by shaking down drug dealers and letting them go through the neighborhood of south boston. i lived there in the '80s there was more there than any neighborhood in the city. whitey has that on his hands. >> you mentioned his younger brother, and billy end up becoming president of the montana senate, president of the university of montana, even when he was in the state house he would succeeded by the future
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mayor of boston. we're not talking a quiet power broker. this was a guy out there. they both came out of the family. the father had been injured. but more importantly where that those projects were south boston. tell us a little bit. >> south boston is a name hood where there was an irish even to there were many different ethnic groups that live there had. the name identified as as the irish. even in the public schools, the al banon kids were forced to sing irish songs. it's a neighborhood where loyalty meant everybody. it's interesting billy, as you said, would was probably the most politician if in the senate for many years. he describes growing up in south boston in aid listic term about
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how close knit it was. and nobody had very much and they were feeling poor they were, you know, the kids hanging together outside playing games, kick the can, football, whatever. there was a lot of, you know, of it sort of not unusual for one family to have someone who would be a priest or a politician or a police officer. and another who would be a gangster. it was not all that unusual in that city at that time. and one of whitey's closest associates also grew up in the project, and two of his brothers went to harvard university. and yet kevin could have gone. he was so brilliant. his father was prouder of kevin for working his way to the top enforcer than the two that went to harvard. there was a culture about the place. and loyalty did mean erg. that takes us to how the story starts with whitey being cultivated an fbi informant.
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it's an fbi agent that grew up in the projects who recruit him to be an fbi informant. >> that agent john connelly. the thing that was interested, and there are so many interesting aspect about the bulger story even the stuff where he's part of the cia research project with when he's in police and, you know, who knows what the lasting effect of giving him lsd was. you'll hear it during his trial. but the really striking thing is this intertwined corruption of the mob and the fbi. if and so they thought -- first of all, did they think they were making an informant out of him? was it simply, you know, a bad idea corrupted at the core?
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>> one of the things we talked about this while we were planning the book out. could it have happened in any other city. my belief is no. there's no other city whether talk about new york, chicago, philadelphia, cleveland, l.a., atlanta, there's no city where you have these two strands of organized crime. one is irish, one is eye tal yab. in all those other cities the mafia is more powerful, lucrative. in boston it wasn't that way. one of the things we try to show it went square or all went pear shaped in the '60s bobby kennedy went to hoover and said you neat to get -- hoover didn't accept there was an mafia. hef awarded you have to develop a trait gi. it didn't pick up until the '70s. that's a national policy. the problem with national policy that they don't take in it account regional differences inspect. boston the model didn't fit.
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you have the fbi agents were told do whatever you have to do to make our policy work. so in the 1906s they decided who would be killed in the irish gang in the sixties. whitey was lucky. he was locked up at the time. statistically it would have been a high change he would have been a perpetrator or victim. instead he comes to a decimated landscape, it's wide open for anybody with opportunity and smart and vishnd and he had all of those things. he goes in and connelly is cynical. he's from the hood and he's saying the -- the other thing about the fbi. you get big salary raises based on your ability to make cases but tush informant. you want to have as inincredible. when john connelly recruits
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white you bull taber, he gets to say this guy is the leading member of the mob in south boston. it looks good for the fbi. the idea he was going give them anything on the match too -- the italians woptd have told whitey if his pans were on fire. his associate knew a lot about the mafia had been recruited several times. always turned them down saying i want to stay on my own. and he does it for two,s. it looks good for him. there's an ult tier your mode m going back to the hood. that was protect the family.
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this is going to look great for me. make sure i'm okay. i'll keep talking to them. i can cover my tracks. anything i can use this -- i can send them off on people i want to get out of my way. >> that's absolutely right. right around the time that whitey becomes an inform mantd, he actually charged with 19 murders. he's charged with killing nineteen people. one of the people is a guy who had been kind of a rivel gang, and eventually basically sort of there was some mediation and worked together. he still had it in his mind he wanted to wipe out the guys he never liked from the rival gang. after he becomes an informant. he's charged with take the guy tommy king. killing him.
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he has a bulletproof vest on and get in the car. they hand out guns. tommy get blanks in his gun. and they kill him. and they bury him in a secret grave. and right the same time they decide to kill his friend, a guy named buddy. they kill him. so now the meeting meeting that whitey has with the fbi handler he said, john, tommy king just killed hum and he's gone in to hiding. he's in a discredit grave. he's dead. heyed in the fbi file whitey told him that, you know, tommy king killed leonard. and this disseminated to boston police. they are looking for tommy king. now he goes back a couple of week later. he's like they have to be wondering where tommy went. he updates the fbi and said, well, you know, they told tommy
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you better get out of town. you're going get killed. >> he didn't want the cop -- he wait and said tommy king is dead. they killed him. now you'll never find him. this is how he's manipulating the fbi. over the course of the years and actually gets much worse and sinister than that. the allegations are that when people went to the fbi to cooperate against whitey, they would leak it to whitey. hey. and he would kill them. >> they didn't see the pattern. and they -- [inaudible] they didn't care about it. the number in the victims in the case are fbi informant. at some point, you know, as he's more woven he can get away with anything. now later on we see, you know, business american legitimate businessmen who shaking them down and not killing them. summoning them meetings and give
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them a chance to buy your life. you pay me $400 ,000, and i'll let you live. don't go to the fbi, because if you do i'll know in five minutes. >> one thing we wanted to -- one of many things we wanted to do is show that the justice department narrative offing this be the creation of one -- was too close to the home boy is maloney. and that was . >> thank you for saying that. >> he doesn't usually say that. he doesn't think about -- the fbi and the justice department is absolutely determined not to make this a big scandal. so they didn't indict other fbi agents. by my count at least a half dozen fbi agents could have been indicted including ones that called me in 1988 and said if i put in the paper that whitey bulger was an informant would be murder.
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that agent was allowed to testify. -- retire. and in 1998, i testified to that about him calling me and saying if you do this, you will be killed. now, the government had -- . rebut my testimony. >> he said, you know, -- like that. he claimed that a gangster called and wanted to pass over. the gangster didn't know me from a whole in the wall. there's no way a gangster is going say i'm worried about kevin. it doesn't matter what happened. what happened is a series of hearings. i testify for three and a half hours. and tell my story. i have a note i was ordered to write after the phone call by the investigator. and the judge kept asking, are you going put the agent on the stand? they wouldn't put him up there. he would have perjuried himself
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or taken the fifth. they would have had to do something. they would had to do something to tom. no. the judge said i accept mr. connelly's testimony especially given you were not rebutted and the agent retires with a nice full fat pension. that's the thing about this. we were talking about how we game out whitey is one thing. it's what this says about the justice department. it's the fbi. >> i agree. the institution, corruption that source. is it -- you think it's lunchtime now? >> now i think it will be interesting to whitey on the run for sixteen years, he's finally caught living in a rent controlled apartment in santa monica california where he was living for fifteen years.
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it's a crazy story how he's caught. it's actually, you know, an former neighbor who lives in, you know, a former misiceland who lives in santa monica several month after year and back home, she's watching a cnn n report on the latest combine to find whitey. she recognizes the wanted posters on the, you know, of him and his girlfriend. he knows them because kathy, his girlfriend, by all the accounts a lovely woman. a complete, you know, it's whitey years old never have done the horrible thing. he loved animal, and she was feeding stray cats in the neighborhood. and this anna thought how wonderful. a what nice lady. she's kind to the cat. and she thought her husband is a little cranky. but she recognized them. called the fbi and how they caught them. we have received for the book a
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friend of whitey's who has been writing to him since his capture shared some of of the letter with us. i might add, it gives you a great instieght whitey. he may have a lot of problems. but self-est teem isn't one of them. in one of the writes a cat got me captured. >> they grewed up in the subtitle. see the tub subtitle. it should say how a cat caught most wanted character. >> he's a fan of reading about himself. >> he absolutely. is. >> he likes to read in general. he's fond of the "boston globe." he shot up the officer because the way they -- the boston globe is a good company. he also, you know, took part of his social scrowt reach
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campaign, went after john f kennedy. because he was angry at the kennedys in general because the biggest is that a judge named -- [inaudible] a federal judge. bobby kennedy promoted him through the justice department. and then teddy kennedy became his not only his prime to push him for federal judgeship. when gary issued the ruling which is controversial. and in the city in particularly we see they were poisoning the social experiment. and it was wouldn't assent all the rich white suburbs. they hated the kennedy and they were hated teddy. he fire bombs jack kennedy's bitter place and spray painted bust teddy. >> a swell guy.
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>> meanwhile his brother is also fighting against the -- and -- and . >> well, in rerning the book i traveled to california because whitey spent federal years for bank robbery. and he was sent to alcatraz which was the first maximum federal security prison in the country. he looked at alcatraz fondly like where we look at our alma mater. it gave heath him a lot he went to al can raise. we have a chapter in the book called university of can trays. >> anybody can step through harvard. but in the boston area but when you can go to alcatraz.
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that's right. he was a high school dropout who earned his ged while he was in the air force. where he educate himself was in l can trays. he boasted he read a book a day. became well read. read military history. mack when they hear the -- i think he's in the cleveland crew. [laughter] he knew who he was. took the lesson well. one of the interesting things you could ask about the family dynamic. he's in prison. his brother, billy, at the time is boston college of rule. law school. he's five years younger and determined to help him go straight. host lobbying while at law school to get whitey moved closer to home. get him early parole. and he enlists the dean of the boston college of law school,
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the to become whitey's prison pen pal. he's writing to whitey. it looks good for whitey. it look like he's trying to turn his life around. so you see this priest who is writing to help him. even within the prison system to do well, he also gets at the time the speak much u.s. house to lobby also from south boston to lobby the prison, the bureau of prisons to get whitey special treatment. can you watch out for the guy. he comes from a wonderful family. he did. can you get him moved closer to home? whitey gets caught up in a prison escape attempt he ends up at alcatraz. the house speaker gets the head of the director of bureau of prison in washington to fly to san francisco, take the boat to alcatraz and pay a little visit to whitey bulger.
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and he how are they treating you? how are you doing here? how many -- bank robberies got whitey is seeing how political connections can pay off. >> when he got out he came brother is his protecter when he was in the can. when he got out, he finally got very involved. anybody he perceived as a political faux of had his brother that would include the newspaper we worked for was an enemy. whitey would go after them. there was a guy named alan who was a state senator who suggest it on the floor of the massachusetts senate that billy bulger controlled the legitimate and his brother the gangster controls the ill legitimate. he was in the midst of a mental break down. no truer words have been ever been spoke.
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kevin told huhs he called and said this unanimously said i'm going kill you. that's the stuff that whitey did to anybody perceived as a threat to his brother. >> we're not amateur when it comes to families and politics and corruption. chij, -- chicago, illinois. i have a sense that if you were a brother of well known mobster, you might run to a few -- you know, stumble along the way. it might be a problem. how did his rise continue while it was also going on? that's one of the things that i think would puzzle far from the story. >> the fbi protected him. we know that. >> yes. >> the legitimate why billy signed a lot of things. he a huge machine. i had cousins that got jobs that would have to have been approved
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by the bulger office. it's the way it went. they were interested in enormous intimidation factor. you weren't supposed to be sitting around a barroom talking about him. there was a sen if you stepped over a line -- the funny thing what we know now the bulger organization was purposefully very small. criminal organization. i think the perception when i lived there it was huge. and there have a big brother was everywhere. and everybody was intimidated. the other thing, like i said, there were legitimate police officering trying to take out. there were few her res in the weak -- heroes in the book. there were three boston cop that tried to take him out. they were getting screwed at every point. they investigation being
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comprised. and one case it was a corrupt fbi state police officer who thwarted an investigation. everybody assumed it was the fbi. i that wasn't just me thinking it up. i was hearing it from the people. they were frustrated at this point they could not take him down legitimately. in one case after bobby long and the state cops went after him it killed the salary for the state police commanders. no one ever figured how how it happened. it happened in senate. i wonder who could have done that. [laughter] the idea of family comes up in at love ways in this story.
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not all the conventional ways of a mob story. one is that he had so many. he was very complex and had lot of -- he's an fbi informant even though he denies that. he's liaison. but, you know, he's an fbi informant. at the same time he's the head of the underworld. he is also juggling lot of different women. one of the most interesting story he had the two of the women were his longest relationship. he young woman named teresa who he met when she was a single mother with four children under seven years old. he meet her shortly after she get out of prison in the '60s. he never marries. he basically treats her children as his own.
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he buys her a house. he moves her out of the project. and insists on sit down family dinners every night around 6:00. no interruptions. no tv. no phone calms. and he lectured the kids on the important of staying away from bad influences. he -- there are kids they were hanging out with. stay away from that. and he physically sit, study study hard. he could go off in the night and shock down drug dealers and bookmakers and legitimate businessmen. >> he has to earn an occasional murder. it was like a scene out of "father knows best" he would go off around 1:00 or 2:00 when the boors closed down he would head to his other girlfriend's house. she was ten years younger. the thirty years he's juggling another relationship nineteen years. kathy greg who ended up on the
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run with him. very interesting story. she was voted the prettiest girl in her high school class. she never thought that was good enough for whitey. she had cosmetic. he yachted from college. kathy knew about teresa. as the clock is ticking and whitey is under investigation. he's likely to be indicted, and the p.
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he was as paive person. you know, okay. so kathy picking her upbringing her to her house. for the last nineteen years. he's been with me for the nineteen. it was dramatic scene. whitey walks in upon it. kathy is yelling . >> what could possibly go wrong there? [laughter] >> according to both teresa and one of whitey's friends. kathy is screaming i'm tired of being the other woman. and whitey is strangling her on the ground and his friends pull her off. the way it resolve himself. all right. it's over. i choose you. lucky teresa. she was a . he take her on the trip to europe but teresa thinks it's a vacation. he's stop, in, you know, london and dublin and paris and hitting
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up safety deposit boxes where he stashed money and fake id. he's planning on a life on the run. he get the head up from john connelly. you better take off. off he goes with her. after a month on the run he said, you know, after the way he raised my kids and took care of them and paid, you know, walked her daughter down the aisle and, you know, she said i would have felt obligating to stay with him. he drop her off south of boston. picking up kathy. and off they go. and it's an amazing story and how they lived on the run. because she's grateful to finally be the only woman. and he describes her as like his wife. they are like a married couple. she spend the . >> brings a tear to your eye. >> and the funny thing in the letters we obtain so they are
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captured and serving eight years in prison because she refused too cooperate again him. but he's writing letters to his friends saying those sixteen years were the happiest years of his life. it was like a sixteen year hon my moon. how dare the government sentenced her. they should have given a medal. she kept me crime free for sixteen years. >> he doesn't count the thirty guns in the wall of the apartment. >> yeah. not that we need background checks or anything. >> it's a love story. >> it is. he's working hard to keep her. he's saying, you know, do what you must with me, how can you . >> that brings us full circle to the myth making. we have the letter when she said she offered himself for engs cushion. if only they let the woman i love go free. that sound very nice.
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t baloney. why. >> why? >> if he cared about kathy. all he had to do is go tow her lawyer, have his lawyer talk cohim. give me up. i'm going to die in prison. tell the fed whatever you want. the feds would have severely reduced the sentence and maybe not sentence her to any time in prison if he cooperated. she wanted to be the culty girl. it's -- we talk about whitey being the myth making. the bad guy giving ride home to the nice laity and carry the gauche i are full circle to whitey the 8:00-year-old gang. down 155 pushup. it was meant to you to believe he's a good bad guy. >> there are two other points to the reputation is everything to hill what we no from the letters
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he's written. he's sort of resigned himself to the fact that the chances he'll get acquitted if the trial not next week but opening probably run through september. he said i'm going to spend the rest of i my life behind bar. >> 83. he thinks? >> he does. there's two things he wants to achieve at the trial. i was never an fbi informant. i department kill the two women. two of the nineteen victims young 26-year-old women accused of strangling. let's face it good bad guys, gangsters with scruple. they don't rat on their friends and strangle women. >> you got word yesterday that you're going to be allowed to cover the. he put us on the witness list. >> we would be such good witnesses. >> i would be terrific defense
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witness for whitey. i fired back before the judge actually sided with us our lawyers made a first amendment argument saying our first amendment rights trump his sixth amendment right. we i actually wrote a column. i'm sure he was not fond of. he fired a motion back saying which i talk about the myth making and whitey wants you to believe. whitey has -- i guess what the psychologist would call fit of grands grandiosity. he talks about what he has to prove in court is -- i feel like philip nolan. it's the protagonist in the short story "man without a country" it's about a noble character who peoples like he's being persecuted by his government. i ended up saying he's no nolan.
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history chip it was the protagonist in the great short story called "informer" he sold out his friends for money. i have to tell you, this is a greelt story. >> whitey would not have like the way jack nicholson portrayed him. he was unkept, a little overweight. and whitey is more disciplined and his soishts told us he would never be that disorganized. whitey is not happy? he doesn't want people like us to defining him. that was, you know, in term of putting us on the witness list if you are on the witness list you are sequestered. we could not cover the trial. he's determined to tell it his way. how dare they write my story. he called me something i can't
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repeat on tv. [laughter] and called kevin another low life. >> just proves he did -- whitey is not happy. that's okay. white why with the book is "whitey bulger: "america's most wanted" gangster. "we have a few minutes for questions. we have to use the mic. >> was whitey and his brother fans of -- hicks. since he was a reader did he read the book about his the that covered boston during the heyday? common ground? did he express and opinion? >> i believe he did. and yes, they were big fans of hicks. and there was a book when he went on the -- run the fbi seized belongings. a teacher had written. i'm not sure -- i don't think
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common ground was among those. he read all of those and wrote about how much he hated -- it was interesting in the book she mentions the bombing of the jfk birthplace. they found whitey's copy of the book. next to the section he writes in the margin of the book, too bad ted wasn't in the house mary joe would have been happy. you know. >> nice guy. >> he would make a great -- [inaudible] >> your book shows us truth is stranger than fiction. i think the soprano is nothing unwhat this could be if we were watching it. i want you to ask you step away from the role of author and how close you are to it case but journalists, if you were reading this account and just how the fbi and people we look to as
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citizeny to protect our rights, protect us. how that comprised your livelihood. what you're supposed to. the role of journalist. and if you comment on that a little bit. professionally. what you uncovered and you you feel about that. i expect criminals to be like that. i don't expect my government to act the way they do in the book. one thing we wanted to show is that the individual crouping of connelly was -- investigating the mother and threw them off the trail. rather than turn him over to law
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enforcement agencies. the other thing i deeply resent is the way that the government has tried to suggest -- he was only killing gangster. my government doesn't get to pick who lives and dies. the reality is that he killed a number of innocent people. davis was not a criminal. debra was not a criminal. michael was a no a criminal. roger wheeler was no a criminal. the other thing we did try to show is where the john connelly taking money and protecting this guy is like corruption. you understand corruption. the justice department did teferg could. would not acknowledge the hurt. they never app fiesed. they gone out their way -- seeking compensation had been thrown out. and the way the justice department it is cynical.
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on the criminal side -- got people killed. send the civil thriewr a different courtroom and say they have to be thrown out. you can't believe a word of the gangster. that's to me is corruption. that our government could that to the people. >> i thought just quickly that is one of the thing i found most startling. we covered the story since the '0u. after there were revelation in court about the fbi's current relationship with bull gear it thread a number of -- when the families filed the wrongful death suit alleging the government liable because of the handle of the two informant, they managed the to get most of the suit dismissed on technical
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grounds. you should known. you should have been watching tv and reading the paper more closely. you should known a couple of years ago that the fbi was to blame and you waited too long to sue. you have to state your claim within two years of knowing so you a claim. so they were dismissed on the grounds. to me that's just funny. >> proud moment. time for one last question. i think you started to answer my question. it seems like what you said bulger was a "perfect storm" in term where he happened to be. are there other whitey bulgers? do you see that happening again? >> i don't believe the culture of the fbi has changed much. and last year i did a series of columns based on reporting that slelly, i, and another
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reporter have a lins ya did we found a guy named marc. i remember getting the first phone call about the story. accused of suspected and at least six . >> he's a mafia guy. they rolled him. the state police decided to target him. he was a well known heroin dealer. he was not a nice guy. and so they thought he was an fbi informant. they called the fbi. it was two years ago. called the fbi and think it's your guy. we're going move on. no. no. t not your guy. as soon as we get the wire on -- they wifes on subpoena they get a court order to go on to the gangsters cell phone. the first very first conversation they report is him talk together fbi. >> i think the state police are coming after me. >> he was right. when they took them down.
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the same fbi sprucesser said -- call the state cop commander and said that was a great one. want to roll them together? the state cop looked him and said roll them? put them in prison. he said what are you crazy? he's a killer. he's killed at least six people and the response was we know only one. he was the guy that killed one person is acceptable. so you ask me has it changed? i don't believe it's changed. i think fbi needs an enema. i'll go back to had. i walked by shelly and were in washington last week. i walked by the hoover building and thought what a disgrace that the name is up there. what with know about the guy he was one of the most corrupt government officials in the history of the republican. and his name is still on the building. his etho is still in the building. that's why all we talk about
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whitey gull we are bsh bulger. >> on that cheery note. [laughter] i would like to thank you for coming out. i would like to thank shelley murphy, kevin. the book is whitey bulger 125 lb
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coffin jindal tied around his neck. it was shown in the jet magazine and that spurred the nation to look at the price of white supremacy on our dhaka see. we think about 1963, 1963 is the year of birmingham and the year dr. king writes his famous letter from the jail. dr. king says the activism that has gone on the end of the young women and men in that are being addressed it sometimes as eight, naim, 10-years-old are taking the nation back to the democracy that was dug deep by the founding fathers. he was being too kind because the country was founded on racial slavery and it is a conversation that we still have
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not had. about 50 years ago with the march on washington provided a litmus test for democracy. when he speaks of the march on washington she says americans of all cultures and races have to struggle together and go to jail together to try to fundamentally transform american democracy. 50 years later in barack obama's 2008 election we have celebrated an unearned victory. we celebrated the victory and talked about postglacial america. we are celebrating the mythology of the end of racism and that's why people were surprised about trayvon martin. i am heartened that the president spoke out yesterday, but he spoke out and started to speak truth to power only because the grassroots activism that has compelled him to speak. barack obama is not martin luther king jr.. barack obama is not frederick
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douglass. when you get a picture of dr. king next to the lyndon baines johnson, he's got frederick douglass, he's abraham lincoln, and the sooner the black community has yet to maturity to understand that, they can level eight respective critique to the president of the united states for not discussing the black agenda, not discussing black poverty. he said he's not president of black america. i would say find, no matter what anybody says, we are american citizens and we should be advocating for an end of poverty, the end of racial inequality, and the end of mass incarceration. so when we think about president barack obama, we need to go back to what dr. king said in his last speech. he said the greatness of america lies in the right to protest. whoever is in the white house should be someone who we is
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talking about an agenda that affects african-americans even if that person happens to be the first black president of the united states. [applause] >> good afternoon. it's great to be here. i want to join in the congratulations of the book fair for organizing this event and allowing us an opportunity to talk about the contemporary state of black politics. tina, you offered three images. one was the u.s. supreme court decision in the shelby county case. not to forget the court this past term also decided an affirmative action case from the university of texas, in which affirmative action survived by a
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hair. i am persuaded that by that the decision the supreme court is setting up the law to strike down racial diversity as a compelling justification for race conscious affirmative action programs. but taken together i think we can say three things about each of those events or images, each of which offers us an approach on to the state of black politics in the united states today. about that supreme court decision in his opinion for the court, the chief justice, justice roberts says it's something that i do not think could have been set 50 years ago and would not have been set 50 years ago by a member of the u.s. supreme court. there is a moment in the opinion in which he frankly admits that
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racial discrimination in american life, particularly here in the voting excess and goes on to say no one denies that. yet by the end of the opinion, what he has given us is a legal judgment, the reading of the constitution, which effectively says racial discrimination exists. no one denies it and we don't care. so we are living in a peculiar moment in which at one in the same time we can add net the existence of racial discrimination, indeed racial stratification and subordination and on the other declared without skipping a beat that is something about which we are justified as a nation and not caring about. so there's the political culture of indifference to the questions
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of racial inequality which i think distinguishes our moment from 1963. i may be getting into some hot water here because i read the speech quickly and i read some of the press coverage. what strikes me about the press coverage is the extent to which the speech has been universally lawyered for its profound insights into the nature of race and racism in the united states today. don't get me wrong. i am very glad that the president chose albeit a week after the event she chose to address the verdict in the zimmerman case and he acknowledged the widespread pain that african americans and all
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americans who are friends of racial equality who are committed to an antiracist politics in the wake of that verdict. but as in so many of his other pronouncements about race, the president's remarks pretty much remained within the framework of what i call in my own work racial moralism. as a was put of sound and sentimental stories this could be your son or daughter. trayvon could have been my son, i could have then trayvon martin. the speech only gestured through the use of the world context which depending on how you use it can mean anything and nothing. to the structural forces that
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have produced trayvon martin. and it is the age of neoliberalism and that brings us to the moment of the zimmerman verdict itself and which a judge instructed the jury which reached the verdict that held -- and this is another provocation that when it comes to circumstances like this, a black man has no right which a white man is bound to respect. i am paraphrasing. [applause] i'm paraphrasing the decision of the supreme court in the dred scott case, the notorious case from the 19th century which predated the civil war.
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unless for the celebration about the change we've seen in this country in many ways around questions of race and racial inequality since the early 60's. i think it's important for us as we think about moving forward not to lose sight of the continuity to the am i saying that there is no meaningful difference between the structure of racism in 1963 and racism as we know it today? no, i am not claiming that. what i think i can say is we live now as we lived 50 years ago in a moment of racial contradiction, and we need to wrestle with the reality of those contradictions instead of wishing them away.
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that simple to do. [applause] i think everyone would agree those were very provocative statements and i want to follow up with a few of them. i would love to hear you talk more about the contradictions each one of you is pointing out. the contradictions that you were mentioning between a historical moment during which there was a recognition of oppression and the contemporary moment that kendall was describing of indifference. and i think that links directly to the cycle that you were talking about progress and retrenchment to get to me it seems like one of the things you are putting on the table was the question of how in this contemporary moment is race being erased in a way that takes away the possibility for action, legal action and protests. they are being put back on the table with the grass-roots level but i am wondering if each one of you would like to comment more on the implicit criticism
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that you are making to the way in which for example barack obama is asking us to participate in a national conversation on race but at the same time saying that he cannot lead that conversation, the the government isn't effective place to have that conversation but it should be had. i would love for you to tease out more of the contradiction at all of you are speaking to in terms of what is race in the contemporary movement and how can we mobilize against it in a different way than we mobilized against jim crow for example 50 years ago. >> i think the most important thing is to recognize and acknowledge that contradiction. and i think that peniel is right. there seem to be to responses to the zimmerman verdict. what did you expect? i didn't expect anything different. it wasn't made to treat us
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fairly. and other people were stunned that in this day and time this was the verdict we could get and there and is the contradiction and there is so much little ground that we need to be yet to discuss that yes, we are in a moment that the country made a tremendous stride and elected an african-american person, president as kind of an exceptional african-american person. the civil rights movement was quite successful in that it didn't knock down certain barriers that gave a few of us access to read a few exceptional in the fungibles access. yet there are so many black people who still suffer from all kind of any quality that wasn't addressed significantly enough that in there and lie is those contradictions. one of the things we have to do is acknowledge their existence, see how the absurdity, for
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instance, i will stop here, in the judge's instructions to the jury or in the prosecution they could say profiling the they couldn't say racial profiling. so, there is a way that the cases -- what are the possibilities when we can't even call racial profiling racial profiling but in the prosecution the use race all the time and show women afraid of young african-american men because one was at her house. we can have pictures that evoke these racial narrative's that would strike at the heart of the jury yet we can't say in defense of trayvon that he was racially profiled. and the final thing i would say with president obama's speech it's the problem i have with personal anecdotes. we all have personal anecdotes. and i guess it is supposed to strike an empathy and the heart of the listener. i like obama. i thought he was like me to but
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i voted for him if he can't get a cab in manhattan. and that becomes there is a certain drama to the personal anecdote to that story. that becomes the end all and the be all of the story so what gets lost when people were doing the post speech discussions they say trayvon could have been me 35 years ago. but it's exactly what he says but i can't do anything about it as president of the united states. i want to acknowledge your pain, black america. i understand it, but as a president and a brother i've experienced but as the president i can't do anything about it. and i watched and i looked at twitter and facebook and everyone quoted trayvon could have been me 35 years ago but few people paid attention to that and said it's not the place politicians can't start these questions, the conversation that needs to be had. personal anecdotes are good, but i think it is really not in our
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service lead overshadows and it trumps the work that really needs to be done. [applause] >> i would like to build one thing we have to do even before our audience here is to talk about a definition of racism. when we think about racism, it's not about personal prejudice, it's about institutional subjugation and oppressions of the new racism isn't about white and colored signs. the new racism is about outcomes. who's in jail and why? who has no health care, who is unemployed, who is racially profiled and stigmatized, right? so it's about the outcome, who goes to the predominantly segregated schools and why? who is poor and living behind the poverty line? 43 million in the united states only 1.6% make over 200,000 a
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year or more. 28% live below the federally mandated properly line and another 27% mcinturff 35,000 years. for that group of people things haven't gotten better in the last 50 years and we think about president obama, i think president obama when we have to question this is the euphoria and the cultural transformation of having a black president and a beautiful first lady enough of that black president cannot provide substantive transformation to the community and go beyond even the affordable health care act which i think is substantive and that goes beyond the stimulus package which i think is substantive. but there is an urban agenda this president house. there is no confronting what michelle called the new jim crow and the mass incarceration the director of the schaumburg is called the condemnation of
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blackness and how that is connected to why black people are treated and dehumanized in the criminal justice system. the reason trayvon martin goes from victim to criminal is because of a cultural racism that effect the united states. what i say is this, the contradictions we are talking about are not contradictions. they are part and parcel of race and democracy in america. what dr. king and malcolm x and frannie lou hamer said is this america before the credentials committee in atlantic city at the democratic national convention. he had been beaten and brutalized the voting rights, a sharecropper. she said is this america? lyndon johnson organizes a press conference to tanker off the national television because he said who is that exposing the lack of democracy in the united states so the contradiction that you could have a black president at the united states and to get
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at 841,000 black males in jail that is not a contradiction, that is part and parcel of how american democracy has always worked. with the civil rights movement did and the power movement did work multiracial progressives tried to do is transformed democracy and say there's a different way for the democracy to work. it doesn't have to work by condemning black people or by denying racism. the further we deny racial discrimination in the country and institutional racism and slavery the worse it grows like a cancer and a tumor of our body politic. the further we confront the racial discrimination and institute institutional racism the more we are left confused about the outcome. how come there are so many few black people? beebee they don't like to work. maybe it's not about the industrialization are institutionalized discrimination. it's not about harlem and
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brooklyn getting a gentrified. as i speak and black people are left out, this is about institutions and certainly president obama is not confronting it, but we need to confront it and force president obama's hand. the reason that we discussed trade on martin is because of the grassroots insurgency of activists in the country who demanded the commander in chief speak out about this. 1963 they talked about racism as a moral crisis that was affecting and distorting our democracy. and kennedy did that because of nl que. kennedy did that because the grassroots insurgency that forced the president's hand. by the time medgar evers, the civil rights had become everything. and it still is everything right now until we solve the problem of racial inequality in the united states and economic inequality in the united states. this democracy doesn't have a
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progressive future. [applause] >> so what is the nature of this contradiction? i but simply join in what michael panelists have said and read to you a few lines from a letter written in march of 191-3100 years ago called an open letter to woodrow wilson and the author is w.e.b. du bois you face no insoluble problem. the only problem the it is insolvable is when they settled by asking absolutely contradictory things. you cannot make 10 million people at one in the same time servile and dignified, docile and self-reliant, servants and independent leaders, segregated it part of the industrial
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organism, disfranchised and citizens of a democracy, ignorant and intelligent. this is impossible and it is not factitious, it is in the very nature of things. so, the possibility and the impossibility of a black politics are what we might call feige of obama is the contradiction of race and racism. is that contradiction? again, of a president who can engage in a certain kind of identity politics identified with and as trade trayvon martin on the one hand, and to allow the complete and effective privatization of any conversation about this public issue that he's just publicly identified as an issue that
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ought to concern all americans. that privatization of race is the problem. the notion that race is something that affects our public lives but which at its root apart from racism narrowly defined as knowing a purposeful discrimination by the government they don't begin to scratch the surface of racism today. now i think that a good part of the power of that vision of what racism is and how we should be addressed has to do with the
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extent which our economy and our politics is governed by a world view that the fancy theoreticians koln neoliberalism neoliberalism as an economic program and a public philosophy holds that everybody and everything is for the market. and that the the market that steers that market ought to determine public policy. we live in a situation in which the heart as i see it of racism against black people and other people's color in this country is economic injustice. yet in the neo liberal order, this question of economic
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injustice is simply not on the agenda public policy. we can nibble around the edges of it to be sure talking about raising the minimum wage and setting up health care collectives, but the transformation, the fundamental transformation of the economy in a way that would subject decisions about the distribution on shared public resources to the space decision making, that idea of the economic policy than it has been since the creation of the republic to the president obama that represents the first social secretary put it a valuable brand is himself a
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commodity in the marketplace that we call politics. in the age of citizens united, when politicians can effectively be bought and sold to the highest bidder one of the deepest challenges i think facing us not just as people of color but it generally it is the absolute and the utter bankruptcy if the political system that claims to be space, which in fact is controlled and run by corporate financial elites. and unless and until we are willing to look knowledge of the eagerness with which a president who will embrace ronald reagan, the architect of neoliberalism
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as one of the greatest presidents in the history of the country come as a tool of neoliberalism we are not going to get anywhere. but i believe that president obama and the interest that he represents relies on our acquiescence in the name of a very narrow and ultimately disempowering understanding of identity politics. the identity is being mobilized in fact to disable, disencumber and defeat any claims to justice on the part of the collective who increase that identity. so that is the contradiction, the removal as a question of the space decision making, of these large questions of economic justice, which also questions of
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race. [applause] >> i want to follow through on many of the statements that you made which is on the one hand a critique of leadership in its present form, and at the same time, to ask us to consider the power of the grassroots insurgency. and i think that's not a contradiction. we use that too much. i think that is a concept that is being recreated in the 21st century. and so i would love to hear you talk a little bit more about given again, the provocation that barack obama has given us about the need for a conversation on race and at the same time, the creation and the offloading of that conversation into a private sphere as you are pointing out to be above what leadership look like, what would
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it need to look like in order to connect to grassroots mobilization that barack obama is responding to? so i'm asking you to think of the critique toward another moment. so what would it mean to actually be able to bring together effective leadership? what would that entail? how will the government be involved and how what it connect to the forces that are actively soliciting eighth response, albeit an effective one. >> i think one of the most interesting and powerful things and that is a great question is that is happening already. we get everything from color changes on line to different grassroots activists for the environment, for the anti-poverty certainly mass incarceration. the book the new jim crow has been an activist all around the
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world in using that and certainly mass incarceration is even on the agenda's naacp. i think one of the things the mainstream black leadership has done in the age of barack obama which i would add now the age of trayvon martin, the age of obama and trayvon, the fabricated their role as protestors. they've advocated a fair role as leadership that is going to critique of the executive office of congress, the senate, the different branches of government and the fat succeeded this for accessed. to access means that you get photo ops with the president, that he might come to some of your conventions and organization dinners. but when it comes to the tangible public policy initiative, zero. you're not getting anything. with the black community has allowed obama to -- and i'm speaking as someone that has been critical the support of. so i'm not someone that was just attacking the president of the
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united states but understand his plight as a black man, understand the assault on him but we are citizens of this republic and you can never advocate your role unless the president gave a free pass because they said he has so much problems he doesn't care about the poverty rate in the black community. he doesn't have to care about mass incarceration and what the clinton crime who bill continues to do. he doesn't care about the difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine into the fertile level it is still 18-1. he doesn't have to care about racial profiling and he even said that ray kelly who is the biggest profile to be the head of homeland security. we have to say respectfully, brother, no pity you can't do that even if you are the first black president of the united states. we have to have the ability to lead the people's champion of 1968 he treated access to lyndon
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johnson's white house for the moral clarity that there needed to be anti-poverty and job legislation in the united states. dr. king died advocating for 1,000 black men who are sanitation workers in tennessee. and the reason he's assassinated is because dr. king is bringing together white and black latinos to come together to washington. he's trying to bend the nation's wealth into effective legislation. some people talk about dr. king as a nonviolent activist. she's using non-violence as a tactic to bend the nation's well to save the soul of america. so we can't have a black
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president because he's black we are unwilling to say look this is the agenda that we need. fees one, two or three things and you have to push for this both rhetorically and public policy lies. he gave a great speech yesterday but then he told us as president of the united states she can't do anything about it. and we are supposed to say that's a good? that makes no sense. you can't find an executive order and make a speech about racial profiling. you can't say that we have to bring black and white and latinos and asians and all these people that live in the united states which is about to become a majority minority country. we have to bring them all together to have an up-to-date conversation about what does racial integration mean and in the 21st century the fact that outcomes are a part of our democracy? we can't just do with the color blind racism game and claim that
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term colorblind racism and see that ecology is a fact when we know there racial outcome show the pervasive inequality and discrimination in america. [applause] >> how can you follow that? some of you in the audience may be familiar with the very powerful s.a. that was published i think in 1964 by the man who organized the 1963 march on washington. the great black gay activist byron rosten who wrote an article called from protest to politics to the it and in that article, he contended that time had come for black people to move their political activities from the streets to the halls of
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the legislatures to the courts and to the executive branch as. there was something powerful about that call and in the context which ruston made it, it had some sense. we had the civil rights act and the voting rights act so the legal architecture could be put in place. so from the protest based politics to the electoral institutional government organized politics in which we sought to gain office and get on the school board, the city council, to be in the office, to become governors, and yes evin presidents. i think, however, that what the current moment ought to be telling us is of those of us who
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understand that the black freedom movement was a freedom movement and not just the movement for civil rights can no longer rely exclusively on the strategy of the electoral the government politics. ..
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for the me the question becomes what form leadership do we need, and where ought that leadership to come from? well, i'm persuaded that leadership is almost certainly not going to come from the main stream of the democratic party. and there's no way it's going to come from the republican party. so i think we need to look, my brothers, sisters, friends, fellow citizens, to the left. and to the left which understands the fundamental and intransigent resistance of a
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liberal democratic understanding of racism and racial justice. in pursuing that project, that images project of black freedom, in which black folk, brown folk, asian folk, native americans and others would be able as king put it in 1963, to live out the full meaning of the american dream. to have full, equal to be and substantiative citizenship. that's where the question matters. that's when you have full, equal, and substantiative citizenship. my suggestion is that we need to combine in a way i think is actually beginning to happen protest politics and electoral politics. i see no other way out of the
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contradiction, which on the one hand, gave us two election cycles in the 2008 and 2010 which black people were the demographic that voted at the highest percentage. on the other hand, has given us an unemployment rate 13%, which is higher than the black employment rate was higher in 1963. those question of sober -- social and economic justice are questions for me that demand, and only confronted through a double strategy of protest and politics which is informed by the left vision, all right, of social democracy or, if you will, of democratic socialism. [applause] >> i agree with everything that has been said. i would add one thing. over the past fifty years, a lot
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of work that has been done and maybe it hasn't gotten particularized has been challenging us think differently about leadership. and i know that work has been done. i have read it, seen it, taught it. i think we have very kind of old fashioned notion what leadership looks like. it still mess begannic, charismatic. we saw those kind of narrative working that had us president obama between malcolm x and martin luther king. some of us cringed. not because we supported barack obama. president obama was running to be leadership of the united. for some people that meant his interests were protecting these kind of corporate elite interests that are often against the interests of poor people regardless of color. and the questions of economic justice were never on the
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table. all right. ever. so that work in the past i would say thirty years, twenty years, that taught us to look differently at what leadership look like it seeps in the analysis every once awhile. it seeps in when we mention the name of ella baker. ic we have to go deeper. what did ella baker, not only women but what did they stand for? what did ella baker and eye data b. wells, and these were women who were more involved on the protest end because it wasn't to them. i think the freedom struggle they talked about always knew that electoral politics -- we seemed to have given that up when we put everything behind the wishes in the basket that would elect president obama. they were leaders, grassroots leaders who understood their
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position was only as significant as they were capable of representing the interest of the people who put them there. ella baker said strong people don't need strong leaders. all right. i think we look to communities and groups of people who are organizing if their own interest who put question of economic justice and mass incarceration. all the things that assault our community front and center that should be -- to the things fought our community on a daily basis. on front and center on the leaders are presenting to us. we don't think we think it's people who reelect electorial politics and we don't think that black leaders or the leader of the community have access to the media. the media doesn't make our leaders. i'll leave with one, the most recent vision, i think, that could be a model of leadership for us. it's not a leadership of an individual. there was an article in the "times" yesterday or earlier
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this week about the organization of people. some of them former tobacco -- gang members themselves organized to address black on black violence in, i think it's east new york. where they have not been murder -- a murder for 353 days because they do. it's gone on every day. it's work in the school and prison, it's work that goes on at every level. there's a beautiful image in that story of young brother on a bicycle who sees one of these organizers and says -- [inaudible] because he's met him in school and knows the person. there are those kinds of moalgtd -- model of leadership we should be looking to when we think about what does leadership in the 21st century look like? they are out there. i know, they are out there. they don't get on msnbc all the time. but they are out there.
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[applause] i'm aware i want to leave fief about toes more questions by the audience. i want to ask you by putting one more thought out there. it goes back to barack obama's speech and the way addressed this panel. because at the end of that speech, he said -- he wanted to leave us with a sense of hope, and he wanted to talk about the extent to which he does think we are making progress. he described looking to his daughters and the way which his daughters encounter race. and saying they are different than what he experienced. that was one of the moment when i thought about not necessarily the privatization of the question of -- race and dealing with it. but institutions.
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, churches, education, the media. and since all of us are involved, deeply involved in each of those institutions, i want to end with a question of what is l the role of the law, of the academy, of the media, of social movements, of churches in intervening in this conversation to reshape it. kendall, it's time for you to go first. >> the short answer, there's no single role i think to be played by any of those institutions. speaking of someone who professionally is part of the legal community, i want to be real clear that one thing i would not urge is an expectations that the law can do this work. if there's anything i have learned in the over thirty years i have been thinking and working
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on questions of law it's that the law's limits are sometimes greater than what it can accomplish as a political tool. but i want to go back to this question of the image that the president offered of the generation to which his children belong as a generation which is experiencing and therefore feeling and thinking differently about these questions of race and racial justice than someone say would say of my generation or yours. part of me finds -- cannot help but find that really power of the and beautiful insofar as it hold out the hope for a --
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transformation, a change in the heart and behind in the heart of people and they think about what it means to have a race or to experience race. in community in common with, and in concert with people who belong or profess or identify across the color line. at the same time; however, as i'm willing to concede as feminism, i think, has taught us that the personal is the political. the possibility of those encounters of the president's daughters and the sons and daughters of those who belong to the democratic class from which the president and mrs. obama
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come. that is the experience of a very narrow, sub community. all right, and of african-americans. and so for me, the question would be how do we go about building a racial public. by racial public, i mean, communities of people that include, but are not restricted to people of color. committed to an antiracist agenda. all right. under conditions in which in schools, in workplace, in our neighborhoods. we are, in many instances, as segregated as we were fifty years ago. i do think that the media has a role to play in that. i think the institutions, the actual existing institutions in our communities can do a loath
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of work that they have not yet taken. i'm not a person of faith. but i believe that institutions of faith and communities of faith have been doing extraordinary work on these issues of -- racial justice across denomination. i think there's a role for the emerging secular black public to play as well. but this work cannot be done by anyone's segment of our community. it cannot be done in any one way. [applause] >> very quickly, we're doing this already. we have a center for the study of race and democracy. we are a research center that is connecting race and democracy to public policy working with ngo and scholar works and
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activists. the late chester said that fighters fight and writers write. and we're supposed to do whatever we can whenever we can. i think we have extraordinary activists and color in the room. education is a big part of what we're trying to do. we are launching a national dialogue on race days. september 12th at the csrd center for the study of race and democracy. we're doing that to connect not only trayvon martin, but mass incarceration, violence against black women. poverty, to a genuine public policy debate. i've been talking about national television on race and democracy because too often this issue of race, racism, and black people are made to fit outside of democracy in this country. we are made to feel as we are the other. we're marginal human beings even
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they have lived here the longest who had a right to vote for the shortest amount of time. who fought in every single war the country has ever have. black people have fought, died, struggled, and bled for democracy including the black women she was talking about. we can be part of this dialogue as leaders. i'm not talking about we're advocating our own leadership role. for those in the academy, in ebony and ivory towers. we have to connect the access we have to places like the some berg communities in harl -- harlem, oakland, and boston where i live right now. if we do that and connect on social media and i invite people to join the conversation. we have enough leverage he understands that there are other voices who are substantiative who are -- who have power, who are telling him something else. that's what we need to do. we need to be the voice that
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says, look, we want substantiative public policy transformation. we're not just going settle for the cultural release of barack obama and michelle obama and sasha and malia. we love them and their existence and they are safe and beautiful. we want public policy transformation for our community and young sons and daughters who are living and dying all over the united. things should be much better now than they were fifty years ago. they are not. but we are still optimistic they can be. we have to organize, organize, organize. that's what we need to do. >> i love anything sasha and malia. [laughter] and so any kind of image that makes me go that's beautiful. i love them. i believe the notion that he put
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forward of kind of new generation set of conversations. but i also think -- and i know that is a set of possibilities as kendall said that is limited, small, narrow, and elite. the two notions of communities talking to each other and having dialogue stuck with me this week where the interview with juror b37 that anderson cooper did. i'm i glad for the interview. i'm thankful for the honesty of juror b37 and what he said and the insight she gave us. when she referred to people like rachel as -- those people they don't live like we do. we don't see the world like we do. so clearly she's not having dialogue with people who are different from herself. she doesn't know them. when she sees a picture of trayvon, he's unfamiliar to her and that same night there was an
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interview with rachel and she kept using a refrain. she said where we're from. this is what we it means. people like that where i'm from. i don't know what it means where you're from. those images of those communities, those ways of belonging that do not talk to each other, that do not in any way -- i think rachel was saying you don't understand where we come from. and the juror was saying, i don't recognize that. i don't know that. it's different from sasha and malia and their friends in school, on the basket court; right. so we have to -- our measure of how far we're moving can't just be the measure of two beautiful little girls with great access. but it also has to be the measure of these people who don't necessarily come in to contact with each other for the kinds of dialogues we're talking about until it's too late. until it's in the courtroom and
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one is a juror who can't understand -- who fat m, can't comprehend the young woman in front of her. the other thing i'll say i think they are all important. they are all a mess. they are all places are where we struggle and fight with each other, fight with our church memberring with fight with our colleagues. they're site where the work has to be done. age new site we're seeing and that we really need attend to much more is the site of social media. twitter, frankly, gives me a headache. it really does. i have -- it gives me a headache. but twitter -- for all the, you know, i get angry at the ignorance. i get angry at the access that races have to me and especially to my husband. i get angry about that. but i don't think there's any place with the kind of dynamic dialogue where people are back and forth where people are strait guiding and organizing the immediacy of the organizing
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around trayvon was extraordinary. we haven't seen anything quite like that. i think that, you know, for all of the messiness. no more messy than other. it's bigger. it's a messy and a lot of ignorance and educating that goes on. there's at love organizing that goes on. there's a lot of democratic debate that goes on. i would add social media to those arena that tina talked about earlier as well. [applause] [applause] and now i'm going invite you to pose your questions to this conversation and add your voices. there is a microphone there. i would ask that you were taking that microphone and question hear what you're trying to say. and in the meantime, i want to thank our panelists so far for their powerful statements. [applause]
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first of all the, thank you are for the conversation. how do you sell a left-wing democratic -- juror b37? [laughter] i ask specifically because she's a voter, and, i mean, it's kind of obvious the thrill is gone with the black community in reference of president obama. and i'm certainly no defender myself. i kind of found his comments yesterday -- anyway. the important point is that those people who discuss like the idea that a george zimmerman isn't completely within his right to waste trayvon martin like he's trash on the street. those people vote. they have been voting against the entire time when they weren't attacking us or being -- and president obama's feeling with the fact they vote in numbers structurally that his side simply can't win again. we have watched democratic
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african-american pop tickses special -- -- they with, i there but never statewide. so i'm cienld of wondering what happens next. we want to bring an antiracism agenda to all the people of color in the country and around the world. bringing together latino and asian-americans and gay, straight, everyone. when structurally speaking you still have a tea party that was doing better than us from most of president obama's administration when it came to grassroots organizing. that same tea party or the same kind of people who are voting in the "stand your ground" law and keeping people, you know, keeping idea like sovereign alive today here. i'm wondering given the opposition that still very much entrenched as it was fifty years ago. what happens next? >> well, i think we are talking here about a long revolution. and in the president's
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deference, one of the great things about his speech had to do with that moment in which he asked the people listening to him to imagine trayvon martin in that situation with a gun. all right. and what the response would likely be. all right. if trayvon martin had had that gun. now the great british cultural they theorist from whom i've learned a lot, stewart, said writing after the election of maggie thatcher that one of the things that those of us were on the left needed to understand about why thatcher won. is that people -- don't always, or maybe not most of the time vote on basis of the
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self-interest. politics, he said, is much less a matter of calculated interest and reason than it is of how we imagine ourselves. how we imagine ourselves in relationships to one another. and so one of the potentially fruitful things about the reor rhetorical strategy that the president choose was that he was inviting the juror b37 of the world indeed all of us to think about the ways which we imagine ourselves in relationship to one another. another great british theorist benedict said in answer to the question what is a nation. it's an imagined community. and so fifty years ago, when martin luther king talked about the dream that he had.
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he was inviting the people in the mall and all the folks heard his speech through the media. to imagine themselves in a different way. this politics of the imagination some folks call a politics of "fantasy"; right. is not the whole of politics. it's not going to be a substitute for hard -- roll-up-your-sleeves motivating. it's one of the things that motivates people to think critically about and maybe even refuse the primary identity that is being imposed upon us at this moment under late neoliberal capitalism. mainly to see ourselves not as citizens but as consumers; right. people who buy stuff. and that understanding of who we are, of who we might be, and who we have been that the politics
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of the imagination makes possible. it's a cultural politics. it has to do with producing meanings. making black mean something other than criminal; right. -- that kind of work is cultural work, which has to do with the politics of making new meanings. and that work takes down here, takes place here, and the level of the mass media. so i think that is a very important component of it's someone once called, i keep banalizing the term politics of meeting, politics of imagination. that's where i would leave you on this question. >> i would add to that also we might not get juror number b37. we probably won't convince her
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of anything. i know, this is a job of electricityial politicians to get every vote and not offend people and all of that. but, you know, so maybe we don't get to b37. maybe we lose her; right. but i heard one of the representatives, one of the black representatives from that area say that one of the problems down there is we get so excited about national electricians and mobilize for president obama but many of those people who uphold and maintain the strand your ground laws are in electoral -- they don't vote in the same. she can get her anemia there because we kind of sit those out. and so i think that the kind of mobilizing they're talking about with the tea party did. they were very good at mobilizing at the loam level. and we let that go. we put so much energy, and we should have, behind the election
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of president obama. but the in between elections where the people who maintain laws like stand your ground we sometimes sit them out. we need to be just as vigilant in those kinds of elections as well. [applause] >> i came a little late, so -- but i did hear some of it. many of you may be old enough to remember we had a trayvon martin called michael griffin and [inaudible]
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dlea are they -- they went to jail for thirty to years to life. [applause] the question is how come they're on the panel, the expert at doing this. he was legally suspended from the practice of law because he dominated the criminal bar. and so i asked that when you go about talking about these things, mention alton, our children need know we have a lawyer still alive that won these cases. if he was working as an adviser in the trayvon martin case, b37 may not have made it on the jury panel. [applause]
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i look up to him. >> it's very painful. i have been told i need to cut our conversation short now. so please, i invite you to talk to the panelists afterwards. >> please do. >> please do. in the meantime i thank them again. i thank you for your conversation. >> thank you, tina. you
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